Former RSL Coach Jason Kreis: ‘There Is So Much To Be Proud Of’

Jun 12, 2019, 5:06 PM
Former Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis after a US U-23 men's training camp practice at the Zions B...
Former Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis after a US U-23 men's training camp practice at the Zions Bank Real Academy training center in Herriman on Wednesday, June 12, 2019. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)
(Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

HERRIMAN, Utah – The United States U-23 National Team is holding training camp at the Real Salt Lake Academy in Herriman for the week and is filled with ties to RSL.

Former head coach Jason Kreis is the head coach for the national team as they prepare to qualify for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

He called up four RSL Academy and first team players for the training camp, which includes defenders Aaron Herrera and Justen Glad, as well as forwards Sebastian Saucedo and Brooks Lennon.

A lot of things have changed since Kreis was the RSL head coach from 2007-13, with his last game with the club being the 2013 MLS Cup Final loss to Sporting Kansas City. He left to start up the expansion NYCFC club.

The RSL Facilities

It was the first time that Kreis was able to see the new state-of-the-art soccer and academy facilities in Herriman and the former RSL boss was impressed.

“It’s incredible to look around and see all of these fantastic fields and buildings and a stadium for the Monarchs, it’s an incredible investment that Dell Loy Hansen has made for the club and the community. I think there is so much to be proud of,” Kreis said.

When Kreis was still the head coach, they had just started the Real Monarchs, RSL’s lower division club in the USL.

Saucedo, Lennon, Glad, Herrera

Kreis has the say of who he wants to call up to the U-23 National Team and has no problem turning to his former team and the academy to find talent for his squad. He will be turning to them to help the team qualify for the Olympics.

“From an age specific point of view, all of those players are top considerations for us,” he said. “We had a camp in Spain in March that was thrown together last minute and we asked for those four players and a bunch of other players and were told no. Extremely supportive by Real Salt Lake to allow us to have those players in this camp because I think there is a good chance that those four players and some of the others that are here (in Herriman) will be big players for us as we move forward and attempt to qualify for the Olympics.”

There From The Start

When Dave Checketts started Real Salt Lake in Utah back in 2005, the first player that was signed by the club, leading up to their expansion season was Jason Kreis. The forward scored 17 goals in 58 matches played from 2005-07.

From that point, Kreis retired and immediately took over as the head coach, where he had a very successful six seasons. Kreis and the national team was in attendance for Real Salt Lake’s U.S. Open Cup match against LAFC at Rio Tinto Stadium on Tuesday night. That brought back a lot of memories as he was sitting in the stands.

“I have to feel like I was a big part of the beginning of this club being the first player that was signed here,” Kreis said. “We were at the stadium last night and it brought out a lot of feelings and different to watch a game from the stands. That is a rare occurrence for me but I enjoyed it.”

Since his departure in 2013, Kreis has been back to Utah to visit friends and spend vacations with his family in the Beehive state.

“I have come back a handful of times,” he said. “We have friends here, but I have remarked on it a lot. I am a type of guy who says what I mean and mean what I say, I love this place. I did love it and I still love it. Every time I come here, I have great feelings.”

MLS Cup Champions

The biggest accomplishment in the club’s history to date was winning the 2009 MLS Cup over the Los Angeles Galaxy. It was the third season with Kreis at the helm. That team had to overcome a nearly impossible scenario just to reach the playoffs, but went on to hoist the cup in Seattle.

“A lot of special memories,” Kreis said. “Of course the wins were fantastic and the run leading up to the playoffs, the run of form we were in to make the playoffs and then our run through the playoffs. As a coach, there is not much else that is better than looking out at your team and saying to yourself ‘that’s the exact picture I have had in my mind for a long time.’ It was a special time more so than any other results or holding up the trophy was just the times with all of those players. The culture with that team was second to none.”

Only two players remain on the roster from that championship team with goalkeeper Nick Rimando and midfielder/captain Kyle Beckerman.

Kreis works with one former RSL player at his second job in the Technical Department with the soon-to-be expansion MLS team Inter Miami. Javier Morales is the academy coach for the club that will make their MLS debut during the 2020 season. The longtime attacking midfielder spent 9 seasons with the Claret and Cobalt before playing his final season of his career in 2017 with FC Dallas.

“We see each other everyday,” Kreis said. “It’s been really interesting and fun for me to be involved with the education of him as a coach and I think he is going to be an incredible one.”

Adjustment To National Team

The United States men’s senior national team missed the World Cup in 2018, which has led to a new coaching staff and culture change with U.S. Soccer. Kreis doesn’t necessarily feel any pressure with the player development and getting players ready for the senior team but there is a sense of urgency.

“There is an extra sense of urgency but I wouldn’t say it feels like pressure,” he added. “I think it feels like a new direction and a real sense of organization and a real sense of identity on who we want to be as a national team and how we want to play at the national team program. That has been really nice for me to be a part of. To be a part of the direction and understanding of what that all looks like. As a coach, that is nice to come into a situation to have the identity and culture defined for you and then you have to just carry it out. I have enjoyed it for the first several months that I have been a part of this and the first two camps. This camp has just been spectacular.”

Coaching in Major League Soccer and coaching for the national team is completely different. The mindset of the players and the role of the head coach is different as well. Kreis is currently experiencing that.

“My last three coaching jobs, has been a little bit about establishing what that culture looks like. But to come into the national team program in March, that culture has already been defined. Now it’s about applying those principles and trying to make it right for your camps. So, it has taken some of the burden off. Another great thing about working with the national team is the players already have the same mentality that everyone has the same opportunity to earn minutes and show you what they can do. When you are in a club environment, it can be a little different.”

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